Meditation Journal – Day 54

Vipassana Meditation Day 54

am 1hr

The move from daydreamy supposed freedom to the practise of the meditation showed the resistance and reluctance of the mind to look, listen, feel; preferring to continue in its own groove, feeling all right but only within its own protective boundaries. Conditional alrightness. The change of aspect into sensing the body offers change, a change demanded and yet feared. I felt fear in my chest, not fear of change in particular but fear of some potential future event, the event itself imaginary, vague, bundled together from past images, but enough to give the centre of the chest a fizzy bubbling. The beginning rounds of moving through the body were very steady, listening to each area, feeling how each feels, sliding from one area to the next. Later, the sliding got rockier, with perfect tension coming into all limbs, belly, upper back, neck, face, releasing as attention moved on. Upon reaching the very top of the head, some sort of dissipation of everything I’d felt before, then a direct line from the head to the base of the spine, light and white close by. By the end, my head was rotating, then the whole torso from the base, circling round and round until I thought I was going to puke. And that was enough for it all to cease for this morning.

pm 30 mins

Waiting at the train station, anapana, light shows, not from any internal fireworks but the passing cars dropping off and picking up. A simple, relaxed awareness of breath amidst the rush hour.


Meditation Journal – Day 53

Vipassana Meditation Day 53

am 1 hr

It felt so good to be back in touch with my body, to feel each area as it was, the close contact and a responding ‘thank you!’ for coming back. Some resistance to beginning but I realised that I was still afraid whether I sat down or not, so there really wasn’t anything else to do but stop still for an hour. Distraction doesn’t really cut it as a way to spend the day. So there I was, moving awareness over different parts of the body, feeling any sensations, listening to any responses, letting thoughts do whatever they wanted to do, go where they go, and feeling closer and closer to the actual experience of having a body and a brain, what that’s like and what it means. By the time I was at the legs, they stiffened as awareness passed over them, and into flexing feet, first time round. No particular pain, more of a tensing and release, naturally, without volition. On the way back up the back arched forward, sobbing came, my left hand turned claw-like and the arm went into an armlock behing my back. The arching forward continued some time as my face contorted and stretched, exaggerated expression not found in everyday life, unless I happened to be a mime artist or something, body operating not to my will but to its own needs. It’s a curious situation and entirely without concern, even when the positions are so spasticated or unusual. Sometimes even comical: right arm in the air, pointing stiffly, like I’ve just finished a 70s disco routine, face in some kind of manic grin, left arm still locked behind me, twisted and hard, yet relishing this configuration, the master out of the way, the body at play. Or release, or whatever is going on. Again, I am not willing it, I’m just sat on a cushion for an hour. It seems to need to happen. Glad to be back at it after the Xmas and New Year shortening to 20 minutes. Glad to be back to the full vipassana sensation-based practice.

pm 1 hr

A bumpier ride this evening, even more contortion, tension, spastication, and not much evidence of any kind of release, ending the session exhausted, still tight, body, face and head aching. I am no longer sure what exactly is going on in the depths of a session like this: no thought, intense thought, bliss and agony mixed indecipherably, energy rushes, timeless states and then an incredibly time-conscious, all within the steady minimal occupation of moving attention over the body.

Meditation Journal – Day 44

Vipassana Meditation Day 44

Shortening to 20 minutes has allowed a steadiness to return, and an integration of the wilds of the first 30 days. Now I’m itching for more. At 20 mins, it’s just getting going, settled into position, mind quietening. Stretched beforehand today, some early morning wake up stretches. It’s been a while and I was reminded of the luxury of a good stretch.

pm 20 mins

Thinking about all sorts. Or should I say: all sorts of thinking – as I don’t seem to be doing it. Perhaps it has a nature of its own and can’t help but do it’s thing – bubbling away with concerns and fantasies and familiar grooves. Then something happens. I become aware that I was elsewhere, then I think a little about thought and while doing so another energy comes so that by the time I am done with the few thoughts about thinking, there’s a vast space and energy. Later, as a matter of course, thought in its nature has filled this space. The space wasn’t mine, so no loss.


Meditation Journal – Day 41

Vipassana Meditation Day 41

2 x 20 minutes

Nothing to report today. Short, restful sessions. I’m continuing the shorter sits for the time being, then in a few days our staff retreat begins, with two half hour sits per day. After that, I plan to continue the full vipassana two hours. I will however continue to report any observations and insights (if these aren’t too grand words) here.

Meditation Journal – Day 35

Vipassana Meditation Day 35

am 1hr

At some point during the 10-day course, I chose to move quicker because the technique seemed to demand that and it ‘solved’ an argument with myself on how to best proceed. In a way I left something of myself behind at that point, and the movement through the body became less total in its awareness, less together. Not always but often. If the technique becomes pushed on by part of me, impatient, other parts get left behind, parts of the body and the psyche, and it gets very tiring and tiresome. This morning, exhausted, fearful, pushed into a corner by fear and fatigue, I had to find a way to move. And that was very, very slow, but as complete as possible. So, moving down, I’m thinking of something. (Is thinking a reaction?) Instead of carrying on, I stopped, included the thought, included the sensation in the area I was in, then together we, I, attention, inched along, part blending into part, and including the fear, the fatigue, the objections, the bright light of wellbeing, the attention seeker, the attender, the doing as I am told and the rebel. A feeling that if this isn’t an integrated practice, imbalance occurs and perhaps further distress and confusion is caused. After the excitement of the physical releases and blisses, there is real inquiry to be made, but not by racing ahead. It is inclusive. Same goes for off the cushion. Just because there is understanding in the mind, it doesn’t mean much of the heart isn’t sad, or belly isn’t afraid.

pm 30mins

A long-term tiredness, fatigue in every fibre. This isn’t something due to how I’ve slept this week or what I’ve eaten, but due to carrying so much for so long. And the work involved in holding and the decision-making involved in avoidance. These things, more than the carrying itself, are draining and use such a lot of energy. I can feel it as I go round the body, not rushing anymore, but sensing, and seeing the thoughts that come, the imagery tied with each sensation. Such torture. One striking image was a man trying to pull a World War one tank up a muddy hill, alone, not giving up, just relentlessly tugging. It is interesting to keep aware right down through the tension, through the tiredness, through the associated thoughts, through the imagery and beyond. In the beyond, something else takes place within all that has proceeded. Yet at the moment I am rather immersed in the drudgery itself, caught up, of it. And yet the actual movement and awareness is (totally?) without effort or trace of this work. Work in awareness continues to be work. Awareness is perhaps a default state and needs no doing.

Meditation Journal – Day 32

Vipassana Meditation Day 32 – The Caretaker

am 1hr

The usual ten minutes or so of thinking through things, behind which there’s a settling down. I don’t remember too much about this stage, what the thoughts were and the mini battles that go on with shoulds and shouldn’ts, because what came later kind of wiped the slate clean and was overwhelmingly intense. So after ten minutes, vipassana begun, moving down through the body. Right arm shaking, into the wrist, arm above my head at one stage. Moving steadily down, deep aches and tension in the lower neck and shoulders. The blind spots of the back of the pelvis can now be felt. The tingles and strongly pleasurable feelings around the loins and perineum. Into the legs, sciatica pretty much cleared up, some tightness in the inner thighs up to the groins. The calves are quite blind, and shins and ankles. Feet arches, still a lot going on there, tightening as I pass by. On the way back up I feel like a caretaker, checking in on each part, and it’s clear that I can be a rather grumpy one, cursorily checking in, then slamming the door on the area and moving on begrudgingly. Not slamming the door because I don’t like what I see but because there’s a feeling that there’s so much to do: go to get on. Seeing these things, aspects of the observer, in this setting means they don’t have to stay like that, and after that the observation was much lighter, spiralling around the torso, rising up, and by this stage, there’s movement everywhere, from the pelvis up. Energy rising up through the spine, and shoulders hunching like they’ve never hunched before, reaching deep into the big muscles of the upper back and neck, head forward, head back, to one side, the other, no systemised stretching but a free-form movement unter my gaze, whatever I am. It’s surprisingly, pleasurable to touch so deep, painful, yet I’m not reacting, okay with all to happen in the thick of it. The arm has another go, the legs tense and release, breathing shallow and fast, rushes of energy up from the loins, washing through the brain. All this is exhausting and enlivening at the same time. I feel I need deep rest yet I am due to care for the chickens soon, then in the office. Such is the life of a householder-monk. After lunch I had an hour’s deep sleep.

pm 1hr

Again a steady evening sit. No shakes! Strong sensations in legs towards the end, tight aches. Early on, thinking about something and then: ‘oi, you’re not supposed to be thinking’. This ‘oi’ has been there since the 90s since I first read things about meditation. The idea of it stuck and there’s part that manages my mind like that, sitting or not. For years, a bit of a bully. In this, though, anything non-equanimous attitude is very apparent, so although the ‘oi’ stopped the thought, the thinking said, no, actually something was being worked out here. The compromise solution was to think about it later. Maybe thinking sessions are needed too, to go over things purposely, those things that need thought. Thinking about things of the day subsided if not ceased and body awareness began, cycles of thought coming every now and then. Overall, feeling quite content to be sat. I noticed an agitation in observation, an impatience, making attention unable to be complete on an area, flitting about. There’s a lot of flitting. I’ve been trained in it. TV is flitting about, as are people, as is my attention. In the crucible of sitting still, these flits can be understood.

Meditation Journal – Day 30

Vipassana Meditation Day 30

am 1hr

What Would Buddha Do?

It’s coming up on one month after the 10-day course ended. Recently I’ve been trying to resolve with my mind, meditate with my mind, waiting for the clear head, the lessening of thought, and then I will see clearly what is going on, see the nature of suffering. Sort it out my own way. I know best.

No. There’s a technique given and it involves the body. I’d been trying to do it too perfectly, make sure every part was felt, too fully, too effortful, and in this trying I wasn’t actually doing very much. Lots of zoning out, daydreaming and cursory scans. Rebellion, sat down and in life. Today, after some obsessing about work issues, I just began moving attention, in the state I was in. Down and up, down and up, cursory yes, but in a sustained way, more loops, more consistency. And things really started to shift. Thought naturally quietens in the face of the sheer physical phenomena. Arms shaking all over the place, knocking something nearby – ow! – neck moving this way and that, face contorting, deep ache in the inner eyes, jaw clicking and yawning so very wide. Energy moving from the base of the spine, however it wants to, in an organism and mind as it is, not waiting for the perfect time to practice perfectly. Sobbing at times. This is messy and yet it’s the cleanest, most genuine way.

Thanks, Buddha.

pm 1hr

Oh my fucking gosh. That was something else entirely. Thoughts thinking, criticism criticising and them a steady, real, quietening, naturally, gently yet quite rapidly, before vipassana began, moving through the body, down then up, at first a bit higgledy piggledy and then with more attention and flow and inclusion. I can’t recall the chronology of it all but at some stage an immense ecstasy started to build from the base of the torso. The whole body began to tingle, buzz, a curious numb yet vibrant sensation over the face and head. All the while continuing to move attention throughout. At the bottom and the top of each scan, resting with a sense of the whole body, a direct connection from crown of the head to base of the spine, including all the limbs and extremities and male titties, and not forgetting the ears. Thoughts coming, and when they go – whoosh – some other level. Not a gradation of levels but – suddenly – higher, deeper, beyond, nearer. More bliss than any sex or drug, body and mind calm and in wonderment, overwhelmed. And then the body started releasing: mega shakes in both arms, one at a time, shoulders hunched way up, the big muscles of the upper back and into the neck full of it, all the stuff, head bowed forwards at times, then kind of arching back, then into the sides of the neck, extreme tension and then release, then head shaking this way and that, feet flexing and pointing, arches crying, sobbing as it all goes on, and at the same time as the sobs an incredible all rightness pervading. Nothing wrong here. Up into the jaws, ridiculous expressions, face and head still tingling despite the full expressions made the the face without my involvement. What am I doing in all this? I’m not sure. Watching. Feeling. Not even that at times, just there in it all as it all happens without me. Humbling. Full breath. Slowly, slowly returning to normal, body still, heavy breath, head clear. It’s like being operated upon from within and without, touching even beyond what I think of as my body, like I’m a few inches larger (lightly large) than I thought I was. In the post-ecstasy I glance at my watch – 54 minutes. I come to the heart: may I be free, may I be happy, may I be liberated, may I be well, may I be fortunate. And to those I know, may they be happy, may they be well, may they be fortunate, may they be peaceful. And to the whole world, all the people, may they be well, may they be happy, may they be liberated, may they be free. Not forced wishes, just wishes. Then an om.


Meditation Journal – Day 24

Vipassana Meditation Day 24

am 1hr

Different every time. Awake at 4-something. At just before five in the house in Alresford, I got the thick blanket around me, sat on some cushions, feet on a sheepskin, wrapped in another blanket against the minus five air beyond the window. Mostly in my head the hour long, some problems presented themselves clearly, and otherwise often half dreamed the time by.

pm 1hr

The feeling of reaching out to something else, somewhere I think I’d rather be. The anxiety and instability this causes! Unsettled and grasping, desperate. In awareness, this feeling of ‘elsewhere’ was negated and suddenly here I am, right in the present. Time to breathe, time to move in a very different way, through the body. A feeling that I need infinite time for this, give me more than an hour. For what? Across the tingly scalp and into the deader forehead, eyebrows, bridge of the nose. The nose! Suddenly I am in my nose. I am my nose. It’s become very tense. The entire nose has elongated, seemingly and tightened. A little into the area below the nostrils but mainly the fleshier parts of the nose. OK then. That lasted a wile and then I’m in the lips, and moving into an extreme pout of sorts. This moves and changes, each time ending in the thousand needles feeling. This time the tension/release reached into the gums and deep into the jaws. Then an full open mouth, but not a yawn. Wider. Rounder. Then a kind of Stephen Hawkins thing with the lower jaw. Here, the shoulders hunched and the back arched and the body started tilting forward, forward until the top of the head met the floor. Oh. OK then. And there I stayed, mouth relaxing out, feeling the upper back, breathing deep and fast and full in a kind of exhaustion. Eventually it felt there was a possibility of coming back upright without forcing it, so slowly I came up. What a novelty to be straight again! It had only been some minutes but it felt so new. Soon afterwards it was all over.

Meditation Journal – Day 23

Vipassana Meditation Day 23

am 1hr

Within the discipline of sitting for one hour there is a hell of a lot of freedom. I’m seeing the absolute value of this Goenka-taught technique. It’s tempting to sit there and be somewhat aware of the breath, meanwhile the mind and body continues pretty much as when in sleep, or awake, or a blend of the two, doing it’s own thing. I.e. not so different from just resting. Not that ‘different’ is the point of this. The point is to come out of suffering and that’s not going to happen sitting and daydreaming and being vaguely aware of the breath or anything else. So there’s this simple technique of moving attention through the body from head to feet and then from feet to head. To notice sensation. To be in touch with sensation. To be aware of sensation in equanimity  This sensation is the elusive ‘what is’. Or should I say this sensation, together with the reaction to it, or non-reaction, together with the awareness is the ‘what is’. And it’s there that things change, shift, move, in a way that is way beyond my understanding. There’s a nature there in our organism, that knows what it needs.

So in the freedom of sitting, when the right arm starts shaking I let it shake. I thought, ‘Not again,’ and then the thought went and I was there with the arm as it shook, lifted, moved over to the left, shaking intensifying, tensions through the upper arm into the neck and then my head joined in, moving side to side, wobbling into the low jaw, loose and mouth dribbling as it shook in a way that is beyond my ability to shake by volition. It’s kind of wild. Wild seems genuine. Not enforced wildness but wildness that comes in this setting of sitting. It calms down at some point. I come back, breathing deep, like after sex or running.

Talking of sex, there’s a massive energy down at the base of the torso. I think it’s sexual but it’s not really, that’s just the way its gone before. Where does it want to move, what does it want to do? It moved past the point where the body reacts sexually, into the very low abdomen, where it all tightened up, the energy tingling and oozing so liberally, and then dissipates. Liberal like it has endless resources. And then it’s all over, the shaking, the energy moving, the wildness that I don’t understand, nor want to, and it’s me and my body and time for work.

pm 1hr

After this morning’s wildness, very very smooth. Thought settling down, seemingly to the very bottom of the brain. I’m sure physically that’s not where it is, but that’s what it seemed like. Above that, a vast expanse of the mind, full of energy and vibrancy, very spacious. And this is so very restful, even in the alertness. No shaking this evening. Gross sensations: inner thighs, central upper back, and that was about it. Intense energy around the bottom of the spine, sending shivers of bliss and something like a mini-orgasm up through the back. This without the sex and the genitals beying invoved. Interesting…

Get Off The Grid With A Bloom Box

In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that’s inexpensive and clean, with no emissions. Over 100 start-ups in Silicon Valley are working on it. One of them, Bloom Energy, is about to make public its invention: a little power-plant-in-a-box they want to put literally in your backyard. You’ll generate your own electricity with the box and it’ll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid. K.R. Sridhar … says he knows it works because he originally invented a similar device for NASA. He really is a rocket scientist. He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There’s no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source. “It’s cheaper than the grid, it’s cleaner than the grid.” Twenty large, well-known companies have quietly bought and are testing Bloom boxes in California. The first customer was Google. Four units have been powering a Google datacenter for 18 months. They use natural gas, but half as much as would be required for a traditional power plant. John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, says its five boxes were installed nine months ago and have already saved the company more than $100,000 in electricity costs. eBay’s boxes run on bio-gas made from landfill waste, so they’re carbon neutral. “In five to ten years, we would like to be in every home.” [Sridhar] said a unit should cost an average person less than $3,000.